Arizona will construct Lute Olson statue outside McKale Center

Aug 29, 2017, 3:54 PM | Updated: 3:55 pm
(AP Photo/Bill Haber, File)...
(AP Photo/Bill Haber, File)
(AP Photo/Bill Haber, File)

The University of Arizona will honor Hall of Fame head coach Lute Olson by erecting a statue in his likeness outside McKale Center, athletic director Dave Heeke announced Tuesday.

The statue will cost approximately $300,000 and stand north of the arena in the Eddie Lynch Athletic Pavilion Plaza. It is expected to be finished by March 2018.

“We’re thrilled to recognize Coach Olson, not just for what he accomplished on the basketball court, but for what he means to Arizona and our community,” Heeke said in a release. “Through the success of Arizona basketball, Lute helped introduce people around the country to our University and this city, and he forever changed the trajectory and perception of our athletics department. His legendary status is worthy of this honor, and we’re proud that his statue will be visible to the thousands of people that visit McKale on a yearly basis.”

Olson went 589-187 in 24 seasons (1983-2008) leading the Wildcats, winning the 1997 national championship and making three other Final Four appearances. He helped Arizona to 20 consecutive 20-win seasons and 23 straight NCAA Tournament appearances while winning 11 Pac-10 titles.

He was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.

“This is a wonderful honor and I’m grateful to the people at Arizona who made the decision to put up a statue,” Olson said in a statement. “I was fortunate to have a successful career that spanned a number of different locations, but Tucson and the University of Arizona have become my home. I’m deeply touched at this recognition and I want to thank all of the staff members, student-athletes and fans, who made, and continue to make, my life at Arizona something special.”

The construction of the statue coincides with the 30th anniversary of the 1988 team that Olson coached to the first Final Four in program history.

Former team member Steve Kerr, current coach of the Golden State Warriors, is helping to raise money for the statue. Partnering with Original Retro Brand, he is selling replica Kerr jerseys and t-shirts with royalties going to the statue fund. Original Retro Brand founder and CEO Marc Herman will match the donation.

Private donations to help build the statue will also be accepted.

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